December 11, 2020
SAMHSA: Crisis Services: Meeting Needs, Saving Lives

Published in December 2020, this book is composed of SAMHSA’s “National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care: Best Practice Toolkit” and related papers on crisis services. The toolkit reflects relevant clinical and health services research, review of top national program practices and replicable approaches that support best practice implementation. The related papers address key issues relevant to crisis services, homelessness, technology advances, substance use, legal issues impacting crisis services, financing crisis care, diverse populations, children and adolescents, rural and frontier areas, and the role of law enforcement.
CMS Releases Information on Designing and Implementing Substance Use Disorder (SUD)-Focused Health Homes

On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a new resource, Best Practices for Designing and Implementing Substance Use Disorder (SUD)-Focused Health Homes, for states to utilize when considering a Substance Use Disorder (SUD)-focused health home program to care for their beneficiaries.

Specifically, this resource provides a description of the best practices for designing and implementing a SUD-focused health home state plan amendment based on the experiences of states with approved SUD-focused health home programs, as required per section 1006(a)(2) of the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities (SUPPORT) Act.
HHS Proposes Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule to Empower Patients, Improve Coordinated Care, and Reduce Regulatory Burdens

On Thursday, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces proposed changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule to support individuals’ engagement in their care, remove barriers to coordinated care, and reduce regulatory burdens on the health care industry.

The proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule include strengthening individuals’ rights to access their own health information, including electronic information; improving information sharing for care coordination and case management for individuals; facilitating greater family and caregiver involvement in the care of individuals experiencing emergencies or health crises; enhancing flexibilities for disclosures in emergency or threatening circumstances, such as the Opioid and COVID-19 public health emergencies; and reducing administrative burdens on HIPAA covered health care providers and health plans, while continuing to protect individuals’ health information privacy interests. Read more here.

December 15, 2 - 3 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

December 16, 12 - 1 pm, Coordinated Care Services, Inc.

December 16, 1 - 2 pm, OMH

December 16, 3 - 4 pm, Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center

December 16, 3 - 4:30 pm, Homeless & Housing Resource Center

December 17, 12 - 1 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

December 17, 2:30 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center

December 18, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

December 21, 1 - 2 pm, United Hospital Fund


Children & Families Committee Meeting
December 15: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

CLMHD Office Closed - Christmas
December 25

CLMHD Office Closed - New Year's Day
January 1

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and GoToMeeting (GTM) information, 518.462.9422 
NY State Office of Mental Health Highlights Role of Social Determinants of Health in Town Hall

The New York State Office of Mental Health (NYS OMH) hosted a virtual town hall meeting on December 8 with Ann Sullivan, the state commissioner of mental health, presenting what the future holds for the public mental health system.

During the statewide meeting, concerns from the different counties and their different agencies were heard in public comment.

Many cited the long lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental and behavioral health, the role of police and jails as de facto providers and concerns about insurance parity

The NYS OMH’s transformation plan hopes to bolster community-based services across the state after 
deinstitutionalization failed to adequately fund and support those programs, leading many people with mental illness dependent on other institutions like jails or community hospitals. Read more here.

Additional article of interest: Social Determinants: Whose Job Is It Anyway?
COVID-19 Strips Safety Net for Foster Youth 'Aging Out' During Pandemic

Last October when Larry Malcolm Smith Jr. approached his 21st birthday -- the year most foster youth in New York City leave the system -- he thought he would be linked to healthcare, housing, and job opportunities before gaining his independence.

Instead, he walked out of his agency's doors with a MetroCard allowing a single round trip on the city's buses and subways.

"I was in college, living in my school dorm, when I got a phone call that said I had to come to SCO Family of Services on Jamaica Avenue," Smith told MedPage Today. "They were like, 'You're leaving.'"

By December, Smith was homeless. A few months later, the first wave of COVID-19 surged through the city, killing more than 18,000 people in New York City by June and leaving the largest recession in decades in its wake. Read more here.
Which Kids Are Getting Tried In Adult Court, Despite New York’s Raise the Age Law

One early June night in Manhattan — amid the pandemic-fueled shutdown and burgeoning protests against police brutality — a test emerged for the state’s Raise the Age law, which bars most 16- and 17-year-olds from being criminally prosecuted as adults. 

Two blocks from a looted Foot Locker, police arrested an armed 16-year-old just after 10 p.m. He had a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic “strapped to his chest,” and was found sitting in a car crammed with six of his friends, boxes of shoes, “cellular telephone products” worth about $1,700, and clothing items, “all still displaying packaging and price tags,” according to court records. 

The case against David, whom The Imprint is not fully naming to protect his identity as a minor, is one of more than 1,000 exceptions to the 2017 Raise the Age law, which passed after a decade-long push by advocates to keep older teens out of notorious lockups like the Rikers Island, and to have their cases handled as juveniles in family court instead of as adults in criminal court. Read more here.
NYS Office of Mental Health issues RFP to Continue Work of Project Teach

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) has issued a Request for Proposals to continue and enhance the work of Project TEACH (Training and Education for the Advancement of Children’s Health), which creates collaborations between primary care providers, such as pediatricians, and behavioral health care providers. This allows primary care providers to better address their patients’ mild to moderate mental health concerns and provide mental health services to children, adolescents and their families.

Access to consultation and collaboration with child and adolescent psychiatrists is a strategy that is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the National Institute for Health Care Management.
In addition, the RFP will expand the maternal mental health initiative, which provides maternal health providers with access to consultation, training and assistance with referral and linkage around maternal mental health issues. Read more here.
Struggling in the Time of COVID: Viewing the Pandemic Through the Eyes of a Frontline Health Care Worker

Twelve months into what has become a devastating pandemic, a lot of the discussion has focused on the broader picture: the hope of effective vaccines, the rising death toll and hospitalizations, the soaring case rates. Americans are growing numb as we watch the figures increase daily and as leaving the house with a face mask on has become rote—at least for most of us. 

But the broader picture isn’t the only one that matters. Across the country, and here in New York, Americans are struggling with day-to-day issues that need to be acknowledged. As a frontline health care worker, I’ve been dealing with these issues not just at work, where I risk my life to care for others, but in my personal life as well.

To understand and begin to alleviate the extreme challenges facing so many Americans, there are several hard truths we must confront. Read more here.

COVID: Nine Months Later, Where Is Behavioral Health In PPE, Testing & Vaccine Priorities?

I was intrigued by the headline What the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Task Force Is Missing. The 16-member Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board is full of “household names” in health care— like former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, David Kessler; Yale professor, Marcella Nunez Smith, former Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy; former White House health policy advisor, Ezekiel Emmanuel; author and Harvard professor, Atul Gawande; international vaccine expert, Rick Bright; and other distinguished public health and scientific experts (see Here’s Who’s On Joe Biden’s Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board).

As it turns out, the advisory board does not have a psychiatrist (although there is a registered nurse, Jane Hopkins, specializing in mental health). This struck me as odd given the frequent headlines and all the data that point to the behavioral health public emergency that has escalated in parallel with our rising COVID numbers and economic distress.

We’ve reported on the increasing prevalence of mental illness and substance abuse in the past nine months—and this is a phenomenon not limited to the U.S. 

Approximately 41% of Americans experienced at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom during COVID-19—31% had symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder, 26% had symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder, 13% started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19, and 11% seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing a national survey. Read more here.

Additional article of interest: Americans' Mental Health Ratings Sink to New Low
The Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors advances public policies and awareness for people with mental illness, chemical dependency and developmental disabilities. We are a statewide membership organization that consists of the Commissioner/ Director of each of the state's 57 county mental hygiene departments and the mental hygiene department of the City of New York.

Affiliated with the NYS Association of Counties (NYSAC)